[ what is a 'disciple'? ]
In the gospels,
we have a record of Jesus “calling” a number of
people, often with the phrase “follow me”.
Those who responded became his disciples.
Jesus took discipleship a stage further than the
already established idea of a pupil - teacher
relationship. Ultimately mere pupils can accept or
reject what their teacher has to say, or move on to sit
at the feet of someone else (Paul the Jew, for example,
sat at the feet of the rabbi Gamaliel - Acts 22:3).
But Jesus wanted more than this. His disciples
were to be committed to him - “Follow me”
not “Follow my teaching.” They did not so much
choose him as their teacher, he chose them (John
15:16), though of course each person's response was up
to them. Discipleship is not forced.
His last recorded words in Matthew's gospel are:
“Go therefore and make disciples
of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them
to obey everything that I have commanded you. And
remember, I am with you always, to the end of the
The call to discipleship is to all of us, and it's to
a lifetime of learning through the Holy Spirit (“the
Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will
teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have
said to you” - Jn 14:26).
For more on discipleship, drill down
As he walked by the Sea of
Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called
Peter, and Andrew his brother ... And he said to them,
Another of his disciples said
to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
But Jesus said to him, “Follow
me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
As Jesus was walking along,
he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth;
and he said to him, “Follow
me.” And he got up and followed him. (Mt 9:9)
“Whoever loves father or
mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever
loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up the cross and follow
me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10:37)
He called the crowd with his
disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my
followers, let them deny themselves and take up their
cross and follow me.
For those who want to save their life will lose it, and
those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake
of the gospel, will save it.” (Mk 8:34)
“Whoever serves me must follow
me, and where I am, there will my servant be
also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.”
summary? To be a disciple of Jesus is to embark on
a life-long learning process, pledging unswerving
loyalty to him as well as his teaching. To be
obedient, no matter what the cost in personal loss or
suffering, to the one whose nature is pure love.
And to know that this is open to anyone: the bond
between his followers is not race, gender, class or
intelligence, but belief in and commitment to the
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